Joint Bankruptcy: Does My Spouse Have To File Bankruptcy?

Author: Joe Pioletti Posted on: . Filed in: Bankruptcy.


Facing financial problems is difficult for anyone; however, when you have a family to support, making ends meet while trying to pay off debts may be impossible. When there is no money left over each month to pay debts after you pay your family’s living expenses, you may want to consider filing bankruptcy. In many cases, bankruptcy is an affordable solution to debt problems. It provides a fresh start for individuals who have suffered from a financial crisis and need help getting back on their feet. Regardless of the reason why you cannot pay your debts, a joint bankruptcy can help you and your spouse.

Individual vs. Joint Bankruptcy Filings

If you are married, you can file an individual bankruptcy case or a joint bankruptcy case. In a joint bankruptcy case, both you and your spouse file for bankruptcy relief. The bankruptcy case includes your debts, your spouse’s debts, and any joint debts. This is a good solution if both you and your spouse have debts that you cannot pay. However, in some cases, an individual bankruptcy case is a better option. Your spouse is not required to file a joint bankruptcy case – you can file the bankruptcy case alone.

There are some important factors you and your bankruptcy attorney will discuss when deciding whether it is in your best interest to file an individual or a joint bankruptcy case. For example, if your spouse does not have any debts to include in a bankruptcy filing, you probably do not want to file a joint bankruptcy. Likewise, if your spouse has substantial assets that would be at risk in a bankruptcy filing, a joint bankruptcy may not be in your best interest.

On the other hand, you do want to be careful about joint debts. If you file an individual bankruptcy, you must disclose any joint debts you have with your spouse. Because your spouse is not filing a joint bankruptcy case with you, the liability for any joint debts will then be the sole responsibility of your spouse. Your legal liability for the joint debt will be discharged in your individual bankruptcy case but your spouse’s liability to repay the debt will remain if he or she does not file bankruptcy.

It should also be noted that regardless of whether you file an individual or joint bankruptcy case, if you are married, your income and your spouse’s income must be reported in your bankruptcy case. The court views income and expenses as “household” rather than individual. While you must include a spouse’s income on your individual bankruptcy filing, you are permitted to claim the monthly expenses for the entire household on your individual filing, as well as any individual debts your spouse may have that he or she will continue to pay.

Contact Our Office for a Consultation with an Experienced Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney

The bankruptcy lawyers of Pioletti & Pioletti represent individuals who need help solving their debt problems. We assist clients throughout McLean, Woodford, Tazewell, and Peoria counties by providing compassionate, competent legal services. Contact our office at 309-938-4838 to schedule your free consultation.

When you need the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney in central Illinois, call Pioletti & Pioletti. We are dedicated to providing our clients exceptional service and support throughout the bankruptcy process.

Joe Pioletti

Joe Pioletti

Attorney Joe C. Pioletti was born and raised in Eureka, IL.Joe received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Management from Eureka College where he also minored in Spanish.Joe then received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law.While in law school Joe worked in the Domestic Violence Advocacy Clinic and was a three-time recipient of the Charter Class Campaign for Academic Excellence Scholarship.
Joe Pioletti